Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Club Opens with a Bang

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Club Opens with a Bang

Article excerpt


The shooting sports have been very good to Kyle Kauffmann.

His prowess with shotgun has earned him a bevy of corporate sponsors -- shotgun and ammunition sponsors, a barrel sponsor and one that provides cleaning supplies -- and a full scholarship to Bethel University.

Not bad for a lanky 17-year-old from Fort Pierce.

"I would love to see more kids get into shooting," he said. "It's a fun sport."

It is rare to see Kauffmann miss a clay pigeon. His focus is laser-like. His ability to instantly compute distance, height and speed of the elusive 5-inch target, and then shatter it with an ounce of shot, is nearly unsurpassed.

Kauffmann was one of about 120 shooters who competed in three separate events at the First Annual Roger Hill Memorial Shoot, held Sunday at the Ancient Oak Gun Club. It was the inaugural shoot for the sporting clay club, which was developed by Schroeder-Manatee Ranch.

The event was named in honor of "Mr. Hill" -- a longtime SMR employee and a legend at the ranch -- who died before the gun club could be completed.

"This is his place," said SMR President and CEO Rex Jensen. "I miss him."

Jensen first met Hill after he arrived in the area. Hill took him and his two children on a tour of the ranch.

Hill caught a wild baby pig and presented it to Jensen's young kids.

"It was more of a flying tackle," Jensen said. "Then he took this squealing, tick-ridden thing and gave it to my kids. They had a ball with it and then let it go. He helped us fit in. He was very kind to us."

The idea for a gun club first came up after a board meeting three years ago, Jensen said. Hill played a role in the development of the course.

"We hit upon the idea of using sports for economic development," Jensen said. "This is one permutation of that idea."

Ancient Oak's sporting clay course drew very positive reviews from the novice shooters, masters level competitors and a state champion. …

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